A glove maker which recently courted controversy with regard to mistreatment of its workforce is working hard to improve the quality of its migrant workers’ accommodation while claiming that the actual situation has been blown out of proportion.
“We do not dispute that the hostels at Laglove (M) Sdn Bhd had some congestion but this has come about due to the COVID-19 situation where the workers were previously housed at ‘hotspots’ and they had requested that we move them to the hostel close to our factory.
“They are able to access all the amenities provided for their needs. Prior to this, they were housed at 10 units of shop lot hostels, situated at areas where the COVID-19 cases were rising,” Brightway Group of Companies group managing director G Baskaran told FocusM.
Laglove is a subsidiary of Brightway.
On Dec 28, the Human Resources Ministry (MOHR) announced that it will be filing 30 charges against Brightway and its subsidiaries for breaching multiple laws during a raid conducted the previous week.
“The Peninsula Malaysia Labour Department (JKTSM) have investigated Brightway and its subsidiaries Biopro (M) Sdn Bhd and La Glove for breaching the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990 (Act 446).
“With that, the ministry will be filing 22 charges against Brightway and Biopro for breaching Act 446, and eight charges will be filed against LA Glove (M) Sdn Bhd,” MOHR was reported saying.
Touching on the raid, Baskaran said his team would offer its fullest cooperation to JTKSM with regard to their probe.
However, he categorically denied allegations that his 750 migrant workers were cramped into three stacked containers, adding that the total number of workers at its Laglove factory is only 475 and the so called “containers” was in fact a three-storey building used as workers’ quarters.
“We have embarked to improve our workers living conditions to meet the requirements of Act 446 but was frustrated by COVID-19 restrictions.
“Despite these restrictions, we had been liaising with several property agents for the past three months and finally found a piece of land to build hostels as per Government regulations near Laglove, which is about 10 minutes’ walk.
“This short distance, with hardly any travel time, will allow the migrant workers extended leisure hours, especially with their 12-hour shift. We are in the process of submitting various applications and hope to have the hostels ready with all amenities within a year or so, depending on the approval from the various authorities,” Baskaran pointed out.
COVID-19 prevention a top priority
In the interim, he said the above mentioned 10 hostels (shop houses) had been reactivated and Brightway has begun moving the workers back there. The company hopes to complete the exercise by early next month.
“Similarly, for our Klang and Port Klang facilities, we have purchased another piece of land about three months ago and working towards getting the approvals to build the hostels as per Act 446.
“Meanwhile, we are in the process of moving about 30% of the workers back to the previous hostel; a row of five units of three-storey shop houses which we own,” Baskaran added.
On the COVID-19 front, he said his team has gotten its 1,941 migrants workers tested using the RTK Antigen screening, between Dec 24 and 30, and found everyone to have tested negative.
“And the Health Ministry (MOH), while inspecting our Biopro facility, didn’t find serious omissions from the standard operating procedures (SOP). However, they did advise us to get more sanitisers and liquid soap with the press type of dispensers for which they gave us till the following morning to have them installed.
“Due to this minor setback, we were served with RM1,000 compound. The following day (Dec 25), six officers inspected the upgrades and upon seeing our compliance, gave us the green light to continue operations.
“At all times, the MOH officials were thorough and professional in their approach. Unfortunately, the public at large did not understand the real reasons for the RM1,000 compound.
“Brightway Group of Companies reaffirms its commitment to doing its part to preventing the spread of the coronavirus. We’re working closely with the authorities throughout this period towards the continued safety and well-being of our employees and local community,” he added.
On that note, Baskaran said he had updated the actual scenario to their customers, and found them to be sympathetic to their situation.
“Our major customers are in contact with us and we have been updating them on the various plans and upgrading works on the hostel facilities.
“Hence press reports that ‘stern warning’ has been issued to us is an overkill and we will reconsider supplying our products to companies going about issuing such comments, especially when no assistance or any consideration on their part has been extended to assist us along the way to resolve the issues at hand,” he remarked. – Jan 14, 2021.